Libya fails to rein in armed militias

07 May 2012

The security problems will add to Tripoli’s challenge of attracting much-needed foreign investment

Libya faces a long journey to political stability as the country comes to terms with life after 41 years under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi.

The attack on the interim government’s headquarters in Tripoli on 8 May showed that the security situation, even at high-profile institutions, is far from under control.

About 200 armed men approached the offices claiming to be owed money after fighting for rebel forces in the 2011 civil war. On 9 May, security forces stopped a protest outside the headquarters of Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco), Libya’s largest oil company, in Benghazi after two weeks of demonstrations.

The perception of security will be an important factor for attracting back skilled foreign oil workers, who fled the country at the start of the civil war.

While Libya was quick to restart oil production at the majority of its fields after the conflict, these workers have so far failed to return, and are crucial to improving the country’s old and damaged infrastructure.

One of the first jobs of the new government, set to be elected in the 19 June polls, will be to rebuild the Libya’s security apparatus to provide a stable environment to attract foreign expertise.

New leaders also face a fine balance of attracting foreign investment while appeasing the more volatile tribal and ideological sections of Libyan society.

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